Fletcher is back to taunt Australians


AUSTRALIA’S cricketers thought they had seen the last of Duncan Fletcher, but the old curmudgeon will be back to haunt them this summer as the new coach of India. The man who orchestrated Australia’s 2005 Ashes demise, and who famously winked at Ricky Ponting from the balcony at Trent Bridge after he was run out by a substitute fielder, causing the then-Australian captain to combust, has reinvented himself at the age of 62 as coach of the world’s most powerful cricket nation. His old adversary, former Australia coach John Buchanan, yesterday summed up the Australians’ relationship with Fletcher. ‘’He was a bit of a tough nut, I thought. I couldn’t say we were the best of friends, but he is a very competitive, dogged sort of person, a pretty good thinker and a pretty good planner around a team,’’ he said.
‘’Obviously in 2005, and before that, he pulled England into such a shape that it caught us by surprise.’’ Ponting might be pleased that relinquishing the captaincy has saved him the need to renew acquaintances, and Buchanan expects Fletcher’s presence in the Indian dressing room to provide some extra heat during next summer’s four-Test series. ‘’It may do,’’ Buchanan said. ‘’There has been some change in personnel in the Australian ranks and certainly if Ricky Ponting is selected in the Australian team he won’t have to contend with Duncan from a position of captaincy, maybe as a player. ‘’There may be some lingering memories, but he will be in different clothes and have a different set of players with him and I think Australia will be more concerned about the talent India will bring as opposed to thinking too much about Duncan.’’
The former England coach and Zimbabwe captain has been awarded a two-year contract and takes over from Gary Kirsten, who mentored India to the No. 1 Test ranking and recent World Cup triumph.
Some expected a younger man to get the job, but Mickey Arthur, who as South African coach hired Fletcher as a consultant for the 2008-09 tour of Australia, believes he can handle the amazing expectations that come with coaching in a nation of a billion people. ‘’He will bring a level head to the Indian job. He is certainly experienced enough to do that,’’ said Arthur, now coach of Western Australia. ‘’Duncan is his own person. He has been known to be a little bit grumpy, but I never saw that in my time with him. That might have been because he was a consultant and not the head coach. He certainly lets the players get on with it. He will be in the background, and if something needs to be said, he won’t be shy in saying it, put it that way.’’ (the age)